TL;DR – This is a weird yet oddly compelling film that will capture you if it is your mood. If it is not your mood, well, it is going to be a bit of a slog
Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene
Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film
The Matrix Resurrections Review –
Of all the films that I have a complicated relationship with, The Matrix series is high on that list. That first film was one of my first entries into the love of cinema, and it still ranks high on my personal Top 10 list. But the sequels also taught me that sometimes lightning doesn’t strike twice. Both are important lessons to learn. However, after all this time, I questioned whether I was ready to enter the Matrix again?
So to set the scene, some years after the end of The Matrix Revolutions, people are still diving into The Matrix. While Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is searching, she discovers a moodle running using old code. Inside, a woman sits talking on the phone, only to discover that the line has been traced and police are on their way. Outside, agents pull up and ask the sergeant why he sent his men in “we can take care of one little girl”, he replies, “no, your agents are already dead”, comes the response. As Bugs follows the program, everything is familiar but wrong. In a way, she can’t put her finger on it. All of this falls apart when one of the Agents notices her and shows a secret portal to a room, the room of one Thomas Anderson, better known as Neo (Keanu Reeves). Okay, so much like Spider-Man: No Way Home, this is a difficult film to talk about because you cannot really discuss it without getting into spoilers at a frighteningly quick pace. So with that in mind, we will give some general impressions and then dive into full spoilers.
This film flirts with the idea of being a Legacy film, but then it knows the kind of nostalgic power that it is working with. Here we get a film that basks in its past while also critiquing those desperate to relive that past while also actively reliving that very past it is critiquing. It honestly boggles the mind in places as you see the narrative’s depth and cyclic nature. They partly achieve this by splicing in footage from the old films, sometimes in a blink and you miss it moments, and sometimes in longer stretches. There are so many layers of nostalgia that this film is dissecting. In honestly, Matrix Resurrections goes from 0 to Meta at 100km an hour. We also get criticisms on critiques of the last movie and comments on modern Hollywood’s creative process. The product tested blandness. There are moments when you sit there and wonder how they were allowed to get through to the final cut, given some of the things they say.
Part of why this all comes together as well as it does, is that you feel that everyone knows what kind of film they are in and are playing to their strengths. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss have effortless chemistry that you see even in what might be the worst handshake I have ever witnessed. They slip into this world of digital extremes as if it is second nature, and every moment they are on the screen is a delight. To add to this, Jessica Henwick and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II make instant impressions. It is a joy to watch them bounce around the digital world, flipping from one room to the next. When the cast list for this film was first announced, I joked that they would end up having the whole cast of Sense8 in the movie before they were done, and well, I was not that far off. It was nice to know that Eréndira Ibarra can be a straight-up badass, but also that the motif of 8 appears throughout the film.
From a visual perspective, I liked how they showed that this is a different version of the Matrix than what we saw in previous films. How people get in and out of the Matrix has changed, focusing more on the weird suck you into a mirror mechanic. The colour palette has changed, shifting to a bluer style. Also, just the fact that they have gone with setting the film in into San Francisco and Tokyo rather than an amorphous blob city is a significant change. A lot of this is presented through the many action scenes throughout the film, which were unfortunately not the strongest part of the film. While we don’t get some of the rubber jankiness that we saw in past movies, which is an improvement, we get a lot of shaky-cam close in fighting. This creates very messy fight scenes where it is difficult to see what is going on, which I think was intentional up until a point. The one standout away from this was Keanu Reeves and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II showdown in the temple.
To talk about some of the critiques I had about the film, I can’t delve into them without discussing key plot elements. So from this point onward, there will be [SPOILERS] ahead. I like that they didn’t hide who some of the new characters are meant to be from a narrative perspective. The second Tom sits down with his boss (Jonathan Groff), you know something is off, so I am glad they didn’t wait to tell you that this was Smith through some clever editing. We also get a film that will shift gears at a moments notice. We go from action to hero narrative, philosophical treatise, action film, heist, and hell, throw in some zombies for extra measure. The fact that this film can turn on a dime yet still be internally consistent was fantastic to see.
However, while I did like a lot of what The Matrix Resurrections were exploring, that does not mean that there were not frustrating moments throughout. For example, Niobe’s (Jada Pinkett Smith) old age makeup didn’t look quite right, and it pulled you out of the scene whenever she was in. The middle part of the film is filled with these moments that either shine like The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) using Neo’s bullet-time against him, or those that frustrate, like whatever the hell The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) was doing in this film. These movements are quite frustrating but thankfully, the love story between Neo and Trinity and the agency they give both of them cut through these more exasperating moments.
In the end, do we recommend The Matrix Resurrections? Well, yes and no. Look, as the kids say, this film is a mood. If that mood captures you, well, you will ride it right to the end. However, if it doesn’t, well, this will be a slog of a film to sit through. For me, I was the first, but I could see very quickly how you could fall into the latter. If nothing else, it is the best sequel to The Matrix, and it will be interesting to see if this is the last time we dive into this particular digital world. If you liked The Matrix Resurrections, I would also recommend to you John Wick.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Matrix Resurrections
Directed by – Lana Wachowski
Written by – Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell & Aleksandar Hemon
Based on – The Matrix by The Wachowskis
Music by – Johnny Klimek & Tom Tykwer
Cinematography by – Daniele Massaccesi & John Toll
Edited by – Joseph Jett Sally
Production/Distribution Companies – Village Roadshow Pictures, Venus Castina Productions, Universal Pictures & Warner Bros Pictures.
Starring – Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, Daniel Bernhardt, Eréndira Ibarra, Max Riemelt, Brian J. Smith, Toby Onwumere, Chad Stahelski, Christina Ricci, Telma Hopkins, Ellen Hollman, Andrew Caldwell, Freema Agyeman, Joshua Grothe, Michael X. Sommers, L. Trey Wilson, Mumbi Maina, Max Mauff, Purab Kohli, Sabrina Strehl, Andrew Rothney, Cooper Rivers, Leo Sheng, Telma Hopkins, Julian Grey, Gaige Chat, Tiger Chen Hu, Volkhart Buff, Ellen Hollman & London Breed
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: na; Germany: 16; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R